We have carried out a survey into how people feel about new technology and its influence on people’s domestic lives. We gave 55 people a questionnaire and received replies from all but four of them. Twenty-four of our respondents are teenagers and people in their twenties, fifteen are in their thirties and middle-aged and the remainder are retired. The four people who did not return their questionnaires are all in the thirty-plus age group.
We asked people how many of the following examples of modern technology they possessed at home – a computer, a mobile phone, an answerphone, the Internet, a video camera, a microwave, a toaster, a DVD, a digital camera, a jacuzzi. We also asked them to add any other examples of modern technology which they also have got at home. We then requested them to indicate how much they used each of the items of modern technology that they reported possessing. Finally, we asked people to point out whether these items of modern technology had a positive or a negative effect on their lives. At this point in the questionnaire we asked our respondents to add comments explaining how exactly an item of technology had affected their lives in either positive or negative ways.
All of our respondents have at least two of the items on our list with a microwave, a computer and DVD being the items most frequently possessed. Only one of our respondents possesses a Jacuzzi. Three of the respondents have all of the other items but the jacuzzi. Most of the respondents added at least one other example of modern technology: these included automatic washing machines, vacuum cleaners, electric ovens, MP3 players. The younger the respondent, the more likely they are to use all the items they have except the DVD and the washing machine. These were most popular with the over-thirties. Of all the items of new technology we listed, the video camera was least frequently used – only once or twice a month by the teenagers and hardly ever by older age groups.
When we asked people whether they felt that new technologies were affecting their lives in a positive or a negative way, all of the teenagers and 87% of the people in the middle age group said that they felt that the effects of new technologies were basically positive. Sixty-three percent of the respondents felt that new technologies also have some negative effects on their lives. The most frequent advantages of new technologies are (in order of frequency of mention):
1. Saving time;
3. Making communications easier;
4. Convenient to use;
The negative effects mentioned were:
1. Harms health;
2. The machines are always going wrong;
3. Uses too much electricity;
4. Technology makes people lazy;
5. Distracts from studying;
6. The machines are always going wrong.
In conclusion, new technology is having a significant effect on domestic life. For most people, especially young, these effects are positive. Older people, although they use technology only marginally less than young people do, find it harder to adapt to it and are more likely to see the problems in our dependence on it than are teenagers.